- Federal safety inspectors on Wednesday cited Amazon on workplace violations for the second time in less than a month, alleging the e-commerce giant failed to keep workers safe at three additional warehouses.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Amazon exposed workers to a high risk of low back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders at warehouses in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York.
- Amazon faces $46,875 in proposed penalties. The company is also under investigation for similar violations at six other warehouses, and faces a proposed fine of $60,269.
Inspectors say warehouse workers were subjected to long hours and often had to twist or bend in awkward positions to lift items. A review of on-site injury logs confirmed workers experienced high rates of musculoskeletal disorders, OSHA said.
"Amazon's operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries," explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. "They need to take these injuries seriously and implement a company-wide strategy to protect their employees from these well-known and preventable hazards."
Amazon intends to appeal the citations. Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for the e-commerce giant, said that the company has reduced injury rates in the U.S. by nearly 15% between 2019 and 2021.
“We take the safety and health of our employees very seriously, and we don’t believe the government’s allegations reflect the reality of safety at our sites,” she said in a statement to Supply Chain Dive.
The investigation into the Aurora, Nampa and Castleton facilities began in August 2022, shortly after OSHA began inspecting six other warehouses for similar workplace injury violations. In December, the agency said it would fine Amazon nearly $30,000 for violations including failing to record, or in some cases misclassifying, injuries and illnesses.
Musculoskeletal disorders are some of the most common workplace injuries across industries. A report published from a coalition of labor unions last spring analyzed OSHA data and found that the injury rate at Amazon warehouses was twice that of non-Amazon warehouses.
Last June, Amazon signed on to a National Safety Council pledge to reduce musculoskeletal disorder injuries 25% by 2025. The company announced a $300 million investment in 2021 to fund safety projects aimed at cutting the number of all recordable injuries in half, also by 2025.
Notably, Amazon has invested heavily in warehouse robots meant to ease some of the physical burden on employees. In a blog post, the e-commerce giant also said it is testing tech in certain facilities across the globe to improve safety and better track injuries when they happen.